Aug 13, 2023
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Crab salad is one of the best ways to enjoy crab meat. It’s super easy to make and a meal you’ll love for the summer season. All you need are crab meat (I’ve got options), crisp vegetables, fresh herbs, and a creamy lemon dressing that ties it all together.
Crab salad from the deli always feels like a special treat. But I have a newfound love for this homemade version. It’s simple and classic, with ingredient tweaks that are minimal yet substantial. You’ll be surprised at what diced shallots and fresh chives can do to this salad!
And while I’m a big fan of shrimp salad, tuna salad, and salmon salad, this crab salad recipe holds its own on a holiday table. It’s one of those nostalgic side dishes always served for Christmas or even the 4th of July as a summer salad. So if you’re looking for a crave-worthy salad to bring to your next holiday party, this seafood salad is one you can make again and again.
Best Crab Salad Recipe Ingredients
Crab meat is fairly light in flavor, but you don’t want to overpower it too much. So, I’ve kept the sauce in this salad a bit more minimal with ingredients that will enhance its flavor. Here’s what you’ll need.
- Crab Meat: You’ve got a few options here. There’s fresh crab meat, canned crab meat, and imitation crab meat. I love to cook crab legs for fresh crab meat. But to keep this salad simple and budget-friendly, imitation crab does the trick! Plus, it’s what is commonly used to make crab salad.
- Vegetables: Diced celery and shallots give it that crisp texture with every bite. But you could also use red onions or green onions.
- Herbs: Parsley, chives, and fresh dill are the best options that pair well with crab. For this recipe, I’m using chives, but feel free to use fresh herbs you have on hand.
- Creamy Dressing: A blend of mayonnaise, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper is what makes this crab salad so delicious. You could even use old bay seasoning to kick it up a notch. And I highly recommend making mayo with this homemade mayonnaise recipe. It tastes a thousand times better and doesn’t include any funky ingredients that bottled versions often have.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below.
Types of Crab Meat for Crab Salad
- Fresh Crab Meat: If you want to go the extra step for super fresh crab meat, cook and peel crab legs. It’s a bit more time-consuming, but I can show you how to cook crab legs — 3 ways in under 10 minutes!
- Packaged/Canned Crab Meat: When buying packaged crab meat, you’ll notice claw crab meat and lump crab meat. Claw meat has a brownish tint to it and a more shredded texture. Lump meat has a much whiter color and meatier whole pieces since it comes from the crab’s body. If you go this route, lump crab meat would be the better choice for flavor and texture.
- Imitation Crab (Surumi): If you’re new to imitation crab, it’s made from surimi — which is a paste that’s typically made from wild Alaskan pollock that’s been deboned, washed, and minced. It’s technically not real crab meat, but the texture resembles flakes of crab meat, and the flavor is much sweeter, which gives this crab salad an extra delicious touch.
How To Make Crab Salad
Make the dressing. Stir the mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, paprika, salt and pepper. I recommend making the dressing right away and not ahead of time. If you do, it will start to separate and not be as emulsified.
Stir it all together. Add the crab, celery, and shallot to a large mixing bowl. Stir together with the dressing until everything is fully coated and well-mixed. Then, sprinkle the fresh herbs on top for the final touch!
Ways To Enjoy Crab Salad
- Serve as an appetizer. Add the crab salad to a serving bowl and place it on a platter with crackers. Perfect for a scoopable and fresh appetizer!
- Crab salad sandwich or wrap. Pile spoonfuls into any sandwich bread of your choice with some extra lettuce. For a low-carb option, enjoy this crab salad wrapped with butter-leaf lettuce or even served on a bed of lettuce.
- Serve with summer vegetables. Think grilled corn on the cob, roasted potatoes, or even creamy mashed potatoes! Whatever side dish you make for your summer dinner or cookout, this crab salad will be a tasty pairing.
How Long Is Homemade Crab Salad Good For?
Fresh crab salad is best when it’s freshly mixed. But any leftovers will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days. This makes it an easy salad to meal prep for the week! Just don’t leave the salad at room temperature for long because the mayonnaise can spoil.
Frequently Asked Questions
Since this is a mayonnaise-based salad, it’s best not to freeze crab salad. The mayonnaise will separate, and the texture of the crab salad won’t taste as fresh.
You can also use yogurt or sour cream as the base for the dressing. And if you’re dairy-free, feel free to use dairy-free versions.
In the past, packaged imitation crab often contained gluten. But I searched many different brands of imitation crab and found that gluten was no longer included in the ingredient list. But always make sure to read your labels.
More Summer Salad Recipes
- Watermelon Salad: Turn juicy watermelon chunks into this tasty salad with cucumber, feta, and mint!
- Caprese Salad: This a non-negotiable if you love mozzarella and juicy tomatoes together.
- Ultimate Chicken Salad: This chicken salad has a secret ingredient that’ll leave you wanting more.
- Classic Potato Salad: A creamy potato salad that will give you nostalgic vibes.
I hope you enjoy this easy crab salad recipe for a refreshing side dish! If you make it, let me know how it turned out in the comment box below.
Classic Crab Salad
- ⅔ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound crab meat (or imitation crab meat), roughly chopped
- 2 ribs of celery, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons finely diced shallot (or red onion)
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh herbs (parsley, chives, or dill)
- Make the dressing. To make the dressing, stir together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, paprika, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Stir it all together. Add the crab, celery and shallot to a large mixing bowl. Pour the dressing on top and stir it all together.
- Garnish. Sprinkle fresh herbs on top for garnish. Serve immediately or chill.
- Although I bought my imitation crab in store, here is a similar imitation crab meat you can order as well!
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